Republicans Need to Remember Hoover

By Colbert I. King
Saturday, January 31, 2009

Republicans are given to saying and doing the darnedest things.

Remember last fall when House Republicans, led by Minority Leader John Boehner, whined that they were forced to kill the Bush administration's bank bailout bill because Speaker Nancy Pelosi had given a speech that hurt their feelings?

Well, they are back with another howler -- and a reminder why the GOP is no longer the nation's dominant political party.

This week, House Republicans voted in lock step against President Obama's economic stimulus package, using as one excuse their deep concern about the impact of government spending on the future debt burden of America's "children and grandchildren."

The GOP's distress is little more than a political contrivance. Were the Republicans really putting children first, they would have supported a stimulus plan that sought to provide money to communities and people, create jobs, and put homeownership within reach of working families.

Even after Democrats dropped some spending provisions that Republicans found distasteful, not one House Republican voted for Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

This is not to say the House-passed legislation is golden.

"Buy American" riders tacked on the bill are dead weights. They call to mind the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, Herbert Hoover's protectionist measure aimed at reducing foreign competition. Smoot-Hawley sparked a global trade war that prolonged the Great Depression.

Candidate Obama waffled on "Buy American" provisions; President Obama can't. He should suck it up and tell the Senate to trim the riders.

The Senate can also improve the bill by changing tax and infrastructure measures to pump money into the economy faster. But fashioning a good, broad-based stimulus plan calls for bipartisan cooperation. The House GOP passed up the chance. With the economy tanking, Senate Republicans should put country first and get on board.

Michigan Democratic Rep. John Dingell got it right when he accused his Republican colleagues in a news release of being "more than willing to let right-wing radio shock jocks drive their political discourse, even after the president traveled to Capitol Hill to listen to and work with them in a genuine attempt to start his administration off on a bipartisan note."

Were House Republicans less obsessed with pandering to the right, they would have quickly noticed how today's crisis is affecting children.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company